Junk Dog is just a dude in the slums who’s got one single talent: fighting. He works in an underground Megalo boxing ring run by the mob, fighting with trashy gear that can barely hold up, and purposely loses fights to mess with the gambling odds. However, Junk Dog wants more: he wants to be able to get in an official fight on his own terms to prove he’s the best. His coach, Gansaku Nanbu, tells him he’s got the skills to fight legit, but he can never let Junk Dog go since Nanbu owes some serious cash to the mob. However, a chance meeting Junk Dog has with the official Megalo Box champion, Yuri, has ignited something in Junk Dog, and he’s out to prove himself for real.
Once seen as a simple promotional tool for the 50th anniversary of Ashita no Joe, Megalo Box has managed to carve out its own identity among modern anime fans. It pays just enough homage to the original work to draw what made the themes of the original series popular, like the focus on the dregs of society that go ignored in contrast to high society, while also being unique enough that anyone unfamiliar with the original story can jump right in. You’re looking for more to watch, so, hey, why don’t we help? We’ve got 6 selections here we think you’ll love.
Similar Anime to Megalo Box
1. Hajime no Ippo (Fighting Spirit)
- Episodes: 75
- Aired: Oct 2000 – Mar 2002
Makunouchi Ippo was just a wimpy high school kid who never had much aspiration. He works with his mother in their fishing boat rental shop just to make ends meet, and anticipates that’s where he’ll be even after graduation. One day, after getting tormented by his school’s bully, Ippo comes across a giant of a man practicing his boxing technique. This chance encounter with up-and-coming middleweight champion Takamura Mamoru leads Ippo to pursue his own boxing career and alter the course of his life!
Has Megalo Box got you revved up for some boxing action? Hajime no Ippo is the definitive boxing classic. It’s the earnest underdog story of little weakling Ippo becoming one of the strongest men in Japan, focusing more on the pure boxing technique involved. You get some really killer boxing action animated to perfection, making it the perfect side-watch while waiting for new episodes of Megalo Box week to week.
Plus, it’s a mammoth of a series. In addition to the 75 episodes of the original anime, you’ve got two sequel anime that cover an additional 51 episodes in total, a movie, and an OVA. You’re not going to blow through this in a weekend if you want something lengthier in an anime like Megalo Box.
2. Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow’s Joe)
- Episodes: 79
- Aired: Apr 1970 – Sept 1971
Joe Yabuki doesn’t have much going for him. He lives in poverty and as a result has some real anger issues. The only way he can work through them is to punch out whoever is nearby. Unfortunately though, that may also be the end of poor Joe Yabuki, as this gets him into a fight with a local gang. Somehow, though, using his own intuition and grit, he manages to beat them, drawing the eyes of the once famous boxing coach Danpei Tange, who’s fallen on hard times. Danpei wants to train Joe to focus his aggression into boxing, which sends Joe on his own journey of discovering his self-worth.
Reading this list, you’re probably already aware that Megalo Box is the 50th anniversary product for Ashita no Joe. However, if you’ve never seen Ashita no Joe, you may wonder how that is. The character names and even basic story seem totally different. This is because Megalo Box is less of a steampunk retelling of Ashita no Joe and more about capturing the mood and themes of the original story. Joe Yabuki was considered an icon of the working class back when Ashita no Joe came out in 1970, as it was one of the first times an anime had depicted the problems of those who were really struggling. Megalo Box encapsulates that same idea with its world depiction of the 1% in contrast with the destitution that Joe lives in.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 2009 – Oct 2009
Dan JD loves basketball, but is disgusted with the BFD league. His poor sister found herself permanently crippled as a result of it, and now he wants revenge. This doesn’t go quite according to plan, as when Dan JD attempts to interrupt an official game, he simultaneous destroys a lot of property and shows off how good he is at the game to boot. As a result, not only did Dan JD ignite interest in the sport due to the mystery he created around the “Dunk Mask” identity he created for his invasion, he’s now found himself in massive debt to the BFD league to pay them off. And, of course, the only way he knows how is to play some BFD.
You gotta admit: part of what drew your attention to Megalo Box was the unique combination of sports anime with sci-fi technology. Much of the appeal of Basquash is similar: it’s a sports story about mechs playing basketball and envisioning just how that would work! But, also like Megalo Box, its main sport serves as an allegory for modern day: BFD is just another way to give people the illusion that they can break out of their social status while in reality they find themselves enslaved to the league. Dan JD’s situation is a bit more on the nose than Junk Dog’s, but no less insightful.
Any Anime Like Megalo Box ?
4. Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 1998 – Apr 1999
Spike Spiegel works as an interstellar bounty hunter along with his partner Jet Black. Together, they travel the solar system in search of work while struggling to make ends meet. Along the way, they get some new members to join their crew, like the femme fatale Faye Valentine and their tech girl Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Trivusky IV (or Ed). They’ve all got their own history, but they’ll try to work together and catch whoever comes their way.
Do you love the sci-fi dystopia overtones of Megalo Box? Does the aimless attitude of Junk Dog speak to you, but wish he didn’t have to be the star of a sports anime? Cowboy Bebop may be exactly what you’re looking for, with the writers of Megalo Box possibly cribbing some notes from Sunrise’s masterpiece. Spike is a wandering soul at heart with no real direction after escaping a life of crime. Fans of Junk Dog’s journey to fight on his own terms will immediately take to Spike’s plight in Cowboy Bebop. All the while, you’ll notice similar stylistic choices in the atmosphere, with glimpses into the glamorous high life in the world of Cowboy Bebop in conjunction with the terrible conditions of anywhere not inside a casino or amusement park.
Cowboy Bebop Official Trailer:
- Episodes: 6+
- Aired: Apr 2018 – Currently airing
Natsunosuke Bonda isn’t a particularly notable pitcher. He works as a middle relief when they need someone to fill in for their star players or if they need a left-hander to play the numbers. However, that doesn’t deter Bonda! All he wants is what everyone working in pro sports wants: fame and fortune. Right now, his salary is stuck at around 18,000,000¥ (around $150,000), but some day he wants to boost that so he never has to worry about working again! He’s only got a limited time in baseball, after all.
Megalo Box, at its heart, is all about Junk Dog’s desire to escape his current position in life. Strangely, even though it’s more of a comedy, Gurazeni addresses this very issue. Professional sports exist as an equal opportunity ground for anyone born into a low social class to move up in the world via their athleticism. This is the core struggle that drives Bonda in Gurazeni. Even if he’s doing fine for himself now, he never knows how things are going to turn out down the road. However, this is the exact mindset that all his opponents are up against as well. It’s a kill or be killed world, not unlike Megalo Box.
6. Grappler Baki (Baki the Grappler)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Jan 2001 – Jun 2001
While Hanma Baki wants to live up to his father’s legacy of becoming a great fighter, his mother has other plans. She desperately wants to make some cash from his hard work and starts paying for combat lessons as early as when Baki turns 3 years old. Baki trains hard for 10 years before going off on his own, and learns a harsh truth about his pop. Hanma Yujiro is actually a nasty, awful human being who regards human life as expendable. Baki, completely disillusioned, challenges his dad and loses without even landing a scratch. Now, Baki sets out to train across the world with one sole intention: ending the career of his father.
Look, we know that one of the things you have to love about Megalo Box is the raw, intense action. That’s just about Grappler Baki in a nutshell. The overall narrative is secondary to just shoving in whatever insane and graphic combat scenario the writers want to put Baki through next. Sometimes it’s almost outlandish how ridiculous and unbelievable the fights in Grappler Baki can get. But hey, if you’re willing to buy into Gearless Joe taking a cyborg punch to the face without protection and coming out on top in the end, you’ll be fine. It’s not about believability, it’s about how brutal and insane these battles can get.
These should see you through for a while. But, hey, if you know of something we didn’t mention, don’t just sit there. Let us know in the comments below! Help others make their own discoveries!